The NSF established the award in 1995 to support "exceptionally promising junior faculty who are committed to the integration of research and education". Early Career awardees are selected on the basis of "creative and effective research and education career development plans that build a firm foundation for a lifetime of integrated contributions to research and education".
"The Early Career Award is the highest honor that the National Science Foundation bestows on young faculty. The honor is given only to exemplary individuals who are able to incorporate a solid research program into the educational experiences of their students," said Professor Donald Crouch, head of the Department of Computer Science. "UMD is extremely proud to have two faculty members win this very prestigious award. Their research will provide very meaningful learning for our students."
Assistant Professor Hudson Turner's research focuses on one of the oldest problems in the field of Artificial Intelligence (AI)--that of representing and reasoning with common sense knowledge about actions. In his research, knowledge about effects of actions is expressed using the language of mathematical logic. Given a description of how actions affect the state of the world, a computer program can then automatically plan a sequence of actions to achieve a goal. An important application of Turner's research is the extension of automated planning systems. Assistant Professor Turner's NFS Early Career Award is $380,000 for March 2001 through June 2006.
Assistant Professor Ted Pedersen's research focuses on the automatic analysis and understanding of natural languages--addressing the problem that many words have different meanings depending on the context in which they are used. Pedersen's research will make it possible for a computer program to choose which meaning of a word is intended in a particular context. An important application of Pedersen's research will be machine translation. Assistant Professor Pedersen's NSF Early Career Award is $350,000 for March 2001 through June 2006.
The two awards strongly support UMD's goal to enrich student learning through the integration of research activities and teaching. Dr. Turner's work will result in a new UMD graduate course in mathematical logic, and an enhancement of UMD's current undergraduate course in artificial intelligence. The active student learning provided by the courses and the funded research activities, will foster in students the development of research skills, critical thinking skills, and relevant subject knowledge. Dr. Pedersen's work will focus on introducing learn-by-doing components into the UMD undergraduate computer science curriculum. It will provide opportunities for students to work on challenging real-world problems. His summer internship program will involve students from underrepresented groups in a guided research experience.